The Tale of Two Intelligence Fields: AI and Neuroscience

28 September 2022

FENS News, Neuroscience News, Society & Partner News

The Tianqiao & Chrissy Chen Institute and FENS offered the first-ever Chen-FENS Science Writer Fellowship, meant to support a researcher interested in building science communication skills at a major scientific conference with a focus on extending conversations beyond the meeting and sparking new ideas and collaborations. After a highly competitive selection process, the grant of 2,500 EUR was awarded to Dr Zahraa Chorghay who attended the FENS Forum 2022 in Paris, France and reported on the Brain Debate that occurred on the opening day.

Originally from Canada, Dr Chorghay obtained her BSc (Honours) at the University of Toronto, and her PhD from McGill University in Montréal, Canada. Her research focused on cellular biology, confocal, and two-photon microscopy techniques to investigate neuron-glia interactions underlying activity-dependent plasticity in the developing visual system. Underlying her scientific interests, she always had a passion for making science accessible and inclusive through science communication and writing, and this was her motivation behind applying for the science writer fellowship.

The focus of the fellowship, the Brain Debate, is a special part of each FENS Forum that provides a unique opportunity for important, sometimes controversial topics in neuroscience to be highlighted and discussed in an open debate among experts and audience participants. In 2022, the Brain Debate was on “Building and understanding brains: How can AI research inform neuroscience?”. It underlined the relevance of using AI in brain research as the fields of neuroscience and computer science become intertwined. It addressed questions about what differentiates human and, more broadly, biological intelligence from AI technologies like DALL-E 2, AlphaGo and others.

Entitled “The Tale of Two Intelligence Fields: AI and Neuroscience”, Dr Chorghay’s report on this year’s Brain Debate analyses the main discussions on how new work in AI research can guide our understanding of biological brains, across levels of description, from cells to systems, and then on to behaviour. She highlights how ongoing studies both in AI and neuroscience can help shape current understanding of intelligent systems. Areas where humans outperform AI offer insight into how to build better algorithms, and tasks in which AI outperforms humans “reveal principles of learning crucial to intelligent behaviour, advancing our understanding of the brain and unravelling which features would contribute to better AI systems”.

Read the full report.

About the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS)

Founded in 1998 at the first Forum of European Neuroscience, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) is the main organisation for neuroscience in Europe. FENS currently represents 44 national and single discipline neuroscience societies across 33 European countries and more than 21,000 member scientists. FENS promotes neuroscience research to policy-makers, funding bodies and the general public, both regionally and internationally. FENS promotes excellence in neuroscience research and facilitates exchanges and networking between neuroscientists within the European Research Area and beyond.

About the Tianqiao & Chrissy Chen Institute (TCCI)

The Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute (TCCI®) was created in 2016 by Tianqiao Chen and his wife Chrissy Luo, the founders of Shanda Group, with a US $1 billion commitment to help advance brain research around the world. The organization’s vision is to improve the human experience by understanding how our brains perceive, learn, and interact with the world. TCCI® created the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech in 2016 and in 2017, the Chens created the Tianqiao Chen Institute for Translational Research, a partnership with the Zhou Liangfu Foundation, Huashan Hospital and Shanghai Mental Health Center. In October 2020, TCCI opened the Chen Frontier Lab for Applied Neurotechnology and in July 2021 announced the Chen Frontier Lab for AI and Mental Health.